SNP MSP Kaukab Stewart has welcomed the announcement that asylum seekers will be included in concessionary bus travel schemes in Scotland. The announcement was made over the weekend by Patrick Harvie MSP and comes with it a commitment by the Scottish Government to fund the scheme with a budgeted £2 million.
This means asylum seekers who are resident in Scotland will be able to access free bus travel, similar to disabled people, people over 60, and those under 22.
Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee this week published its report on asylum seekers in Scotland. The cross-party report urged the Scottish Government to extend free bus travel to asylum seekers, as a measure which can be implemented with devolved powers.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Kaukab Stewart MSP said:
“This is excellent news and has the potential to have a real positive impact to the lived experience of asylum seekers in Scotland.
“Those seeking asylum here are not doing so out of choice. They are among the most vulnerable people in the world, and we have a moral duty to protect them and to make them feel at home.
“Currently, asylum seekers who are housed in hotel accommodation receive a petty £9 per week from the Home Office. The cost of a bus ticket to be able to attend medical, legal, or even Home Office appointments is a serious dent in their finances, as almost all asylum seekers are prohibited by the UK government from working while their application is being processed.
“I hope other measures recommended by the committee report will be seriously considered too. Scotland is a warm, welcoming nation by nature; how we treat those who come to us for safe sanctuary is a mark of that.”